Traffic tie-ups are expected during Lorain County Fair week when more that 100,000 people flock to Wellington, but police Lt. Jeff Shelton, who runs the traffic detail, knows the best ways to get people in and out of the fairgrounds with minimal hassle.
He’s been part of the police department for 21 years and has used the same fair traffic plan since joining in 1994.
Seven officers stand at four intersections in the village to direct traffic. Two officers stand at the North Main and Kelly Street intersection, two stand under the light at Rt. 58 and Rt. 18, two stand at the South Main and Magyar Street intersection, and one officer stands at the Magyar and Prospect intersection.
The police department also controls the light at routes 58 and 18.
“We’ll put it to all red in four directions and that way we can direct people accordingly to get through the intersection,” Shelton said.
Officers are in constant communication with people regulating traffic inside the fair so they always know which routes are congested and which are clear.
“I know most people are set in their ways of one way into the fair and one way out but if they would listen to us we can get them in and probably cut 10 to 15 minutes off their time waiting in traffic,” Shelton said.
Construction on the railroad underpass project was a main concern for village officials and residents just a few short months ago when a 35-day closure was expected to fall during fair week.
Ohio Department of Transportation engineer Brain Rawlings confirmed there’s no need to worry after all.
“Originally a few months ago we thought the railroad was going to come in and switch the tracks to the new structure earlier than they actually did so we lost a few weeks waiting for them to move the tracks. That pushed the closure date back to after the fair,” he said.
The extended closure is expected to start around Sept. 14 and Rawlings has mixed feelings about that.
“Not having to conflict with the fair is obviously an advantage to the village and its residents and everybody that travels to the fair, so that’s definitely a plus,” he said. “On the flip side obviously the completion date for the project moves a few weeks later so that’s a negative.”
Rawlings isn’t sure how the completion date will be affected yet because workers recently started working more days and longer hours to compensate for the delays.
Instead of working eight-hour days Monday through Friday, some crew members are working 10-hour days and adding an eight-hour Saturday to their schedules.
During fair week, Rawlings expects crews to continue working on the retaining walls and the grading of the roadway for new pavement.
Shelton said the fair is a priority and the village always strives to make sure no construction inhibits the flow of traffic.
“We make sure of that at the beginning of the year,” he said. “Everything that’s going to be blocking a road will be opened up for fair week.”
The amount of traffic varies from year to year and is dependent on weather and the headlining bands. But after 21 years of using the same plan without a hitch, Shelton isn’t too concerned.
“Once you get into town we’ll get you the quickest way in and out,” he said.
Kelsey Leyva can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @TWE_KelseyLeyva on Twitter.
Kelsey Leyva | Wellington Enterprise Work continues on the north side of the railroad underpass project.